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TBR News December 14, 2019

Dec 14 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 14, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 14: ‘Christmas With Louise
As a joke, my brother Jay used to hang a pair of panty hose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them.
What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jay’s kids’ stockings overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.
One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don’t sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.
If you’ve never been in an X-rated store, don’t go. You’ll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, “What does this do?” “You’re kidding me!” “Who would buy that?” Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.
I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour.
Finding what I wanted was difficult. “Love Dolls” come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I’d never heard of. I settled for “Lovable Louise.” She was at the bottom of the price scale.
To call Louise a “doll” took a huge leap of imagination.
On Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.
My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with Louise’s pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.
The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more.
We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.
My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. “What in the hell is that?” she asked.
My brother quickly explained, “It’s a doll.”
“Who would play with something like that?” Granny snapped.
I kept my mouth shut.
“Where are her clothes?” Granny continued.
“Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran,” Jay said, to steer her into dining room.
But Granny was relentless. “Why doesn’t she have any teeth?”
Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, “Hang on Granny, hang on!”
My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said,
“Hey, who’s the naked gal by the fireplace?”
I told him she was Jay’s friend.
A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa’s last Christmas at home.
The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the mantel, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants.
Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and sat in the car.
It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.
Later in my brother’s garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise’s collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.
Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.
I can’t wait until next Christmas.”

The Table of Contents
• House committee votes to advance articles of impeachment against Trump
• Coming Attractions
• An Interactive Look at the U.S.-China Military Scorecard
• Trump appears to hit new Twitter record with impeachment tweets
• Trump impeachment: Lindsey Graham will ‘not pretend to be a fair juror’
• FBI’s facial recognition program hits ‘full operational capability’
• FBI Facial Recognition System Gives Officers an Investigative Lead
• The Season of Evil

House committee votes to advance articles of impeachment against Trump
Judiciary committee voted on Friday morning to approve two articles on a straight party-line vote
December 13, 2019
by Tom McCarthy
The Guardian
On a straight party-line vote, the House judiciary committee voted on Friday morning to move two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the House floor, in a crucial final stage before impeachment itself.
A full House vote on whether to impeach the president was expected to be taken as early as Wednesday. Trump would be the third president in American history to be impeached.
A Senate trial to decide whether to remove Trump from office would follow early next year, with the expectation that the Republican majority in the Senate would acquit Trump.
The committee separately approved the two articles of impeachment, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstructing Congress, respectively, on votes of 23-17, with no members crossing party lines. Democrat Ted Lieu of California was absent for medical reasons.
“The article is agreed to,” the judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler, said after the first article was approved. “The resolution will be reported to the House.”
Challenged after the vote on their lockstep defense of Trump, Republicans at a news conference outside the committee room simply denied that Trump did what he visibly did.
Asked whether it was “ever OK for a president to ask a foreign leader to intervene in a US election”, the Arizona congresswoman Debbie Lesko said: “He didn’t do that.”
“He did not do that,” she said. “That was because, I think, logically, more likely than the Democratic story is because he wanted to vet out the corruption.”
A summary of a 25 July phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, released by the White House captures Trump asking Zelenskiy for an investigation of the former vice-president Joe Biden without any mention of corruption in Ukraine.
In a statement following the vote, the White House press secretary called the impeachment proceedings a “desperate charade” and said Trump “looks forward to receiving in the Senate the fair treatment and due process”.
The vote followed a day in which Republicans dug in their heels for 14 hours to avoid a ballot on the impeachment of Trump.
Nadler had originally previewed a committee vote to take place on Thursday afternoon following discussion about amendments, mostly proposed by Republicans, to the articles of impeachment.
But with each of the committee’s 41 members entitled to speak on every amendment, and a visible Republican determination to elongate the process, Nadler gaveled Thursday’s hearing to a close without a vote at about 11pm.
“It has been a long two days of consideration of these articles and it is now very late at night,” Nadler said. “I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences before we cast our final votes.”
Republicans cried foul, accusing Democrats of violating what Republicans conceive as fair process. But Democrats saw no way to accommodate Republican demands, many of which would have rendered the impeachment inquiry unrecognizable as a tribunal on Trump’s conduct.
Instead, with amendment after amendment and excited speech after excited speech, Republicans tried to shift the focus of the inquiry to Biden and his son Hunter; to a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian tampering in the 2016 US election; to the identity and motives of the whistleblower whose complaint set impeachment in motion; to the conduct of the intelligence committee chair, Adam Schiff; and a smorgasbord of other topics irrelevant to the substantive accusations at hand against the president.
For the duration of the impeachment inquiry, which began on 24 September, Republicans have not attempted to defend the substance of conduct by Trump, who allegedly pulled various levers of power to produce a TV moment that he thought would look bad for Biden.
The insistent Republican efforts to make the impeachment investigation about anything except Trump’s alleged conduct paralyzed the process on Thursday and created visible frustration in the room, with ranking member Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, at one point leaving his chair in disgust.
Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power for his own political benefit and at the expense of US national security, by conditioning military aid and an Oval Office meeting for Ukraine on the announcement of investigations including into the former vice-president.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview on Fox News Thursday night, ahead of the committee vote, that he was coordinating closely with the White House on impeachment and there was “zero chance” Trump would be removed from office.
“The case is so darn weak coming over from the House,” McConnell said. “We all know how it’s going to end.”

Coming Attractions
The U.S. Army has conducted the first flight test of a new weapon concept designed to fly within the earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speed and long range.
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command launched the Advance Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), “a first-of-its-kind glide vehicle,” at 17:30 GMT Thursday from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. It hit its designated target at the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll, about 2,300 miles away.
The Army launched the AHW from the military’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai at about 1:30 a.m. local time.
The objective of the test is to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flight.
The mission emphasis is aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, control and thermal protection technologies.
The AHW program is managed and executed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the Army Forces Strategic Command program office in Huntsville, Ala.
The DoD is using AHW to develop and demonstrate technologies for Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS).
As part of the CPGS effort, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency conducted boost-glide flight tests in April 2017 and August 2018, results from which were used in planning the AHW flight test.

An Interactive Look at the U.S.-China Military Scorecard
The Rand Corporation
What has been the trajectory of Chinese military capability development from 1996 to the present, and what will China’s military force look like by the year 2017?
To what extent have China’s military capabilities kept pace with those of the United States? Is it likely that China is “closing in” on U.S. naval, air, missile, space, cyber, and nuclear capabilities?
In which strategic areas is China likely to pose the greatest challenge to the United States in conflicts over Taiwan and the Spratly Islands?
What strategic decisions would the United States have needed to make — in terms of basing, mobilization of forces, force protection, or capability acquisition — to prevail in conflict scenarios with China over time?
Over the past two decades, China’s People’s Liberation Army has transformed itself from a large but antiquated force into a capable, modern military. Although China continues to lag the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, it has improved its relative capabilities in many critical areas. To advance the public debate, RAND used open, unclassified sources to compile The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power. This comprehensive report examines U.S. and Chinese military capabilities in ten operational areas, and presents a “scorecard” for each.
Each scorecard assesses the relative advantage or disadvantage of U.S. and Chinese forces in diverse types of conflict, at varying distances from the Chinese mainland, at different points in time from 1996 to 2017. Advantage means that one side is able to achieve its primary objectives in an operationally relevant time period while the other side would have trouble in doing so. The chart below collects the scorecards for each evaluated operational area.
To prevail in either of the scenarios below, China’s offensive goals would require it to hold advantages in nearly all operational categories simultaneously. U.S. defensive goals could be achieved by holding the advantage in only a few areas. Nevertheless, China’s improved performance could raise costs, lengthen the conflict, and increase risks to the United States.
1. Chinese air base attack
Given the importance of airpower in America’s recent wars, it is not surprising that China has sought ways of neutralizing U.S. capabilities in this area. Of greatest significance, the PLA has developed ballistic and cruise missiles that threaten forward U.S. air bases. From a handful of conventionally armed ballistic missiles in 1996, China’s inventory now numbers roughly 1,400 ballistic missiles and hundreds of cruise missiles. Although most are short-range systems, they include a growing number of intermediate-range ballistic missiles that can reach U.S. bases in Japan. Importantly, accuracy has also improved. Circular error probabilities have decreased from hundreds of meters in the 1990s to as little as five or ten meters today. Weapon ranges have increased from short (less than 1,000 km) to medium (1,000–3,000 km).
RAND models of attacks by these ballistic missiles on Kadena Air Base, the closest U.S. air base to the Taiwan Strait, suggest that even a relatively small number of accurate missiles could shut the base to flight operations for critical days at the outset of hostilities, and focused, committed attacks might close a single base for weeks. U.S. countermeasures—such as improved defenses, hardened shelters for aircraft, faster runway repair methods, or the dispersion of aircraft—can potentially mitigate the threat. But barring a major U.S. defensive technological breakthrough, the growing number and variety of Chinese missiles will almost certainly challenge the U.S. ability to operate from forward bases. As a larger proportion of U.S. aircraft are forced to fly from bases that are either susceptible to attack or farther from the scene of conflict, basing issues will pose greater challenges for U.S. efforts to gain air superiority over the battlefield.
Key Findings
Although China’s Capabilities Fall Behind Those of the United States, It Is Now Able to Pose Significant Challenges to U.S. Operations
China has made tremendous strides in its military capabilities since 1996. It is not close to catching up to the U.S. military in terms of aggregate capabilities, but it does not need to catch up to challenge the United States on its immediate periphery.
Despite U.S. military improvements, China has made relative gains in most operational areas, in some cases with startling speed. However, trends vary by mission area, and even in the context of difficult scenarios, U.S. forces retain some important advantages.
Distance and Geography Have Major Impacts on Both Sides’ Ability to Achieve Their Critical Objectives
In general, these factors work against the United States and largely counterbalance U.S. military strengths, especially in scenarios around China’s immediate periphery.
China’s ability to project power to more distant locations remains weak, and the United States continues to hold more decisive advantage in Asian scenarios at a distance from China’s coast.
However, China’s ability to project power is improving, and the relative balance in areas more distant from China is also shifting.
U.S. military leaders should ensure that U.S. planning for Pacific military operations is as dynamic as possible. The U.S. military should adopt operational concepts and strategies that capitalize on potential advantages and utilize the geographic size and depth of the theater, as well as areas of particular U.S. military strength.
Specifically, the U.S. military should consider employing an active denial strategy that would improve the resiliency of the force and diminish its vulnerability to preemptive attack. Forces would be more dispersed at the outset of conflict, with many deployed at greater distances from China, but with the ability to move forward as Chinese missile inventories are exhausted or reduced through attrition.
Military procurement priorities should be adjusted, emphasizing base redundancy and survivability; standoff systems optimized for high-intensity conflict; stealthy, survivable fighters and bombers; submarine and anti-submarine warfare; and robust space and counterspace capabilities. To save money, U.S. decisionmakers should consider more rapid cuts to legacy fighter forces and a decreased emphasis on large aircraft carriers.
Political and military leaders should intensify diplomatic efforts in the Pacific and Southeast Asia with the goal of expanding potential U.S. access in wartime. This will provide greater strategic depth and more options for U.S. forces.
Western governments and commentators should make it clear to China that aggression would carry immense risks and that China should be cautious not to exaggerate its ability to prevail in armed conflict. They should also engage China on issues of strategic stability and escalation.

Trump appears to hit new Twitter record with impeachment tweets
President has ramped up posting as @realDonaldTrump account tweeted and retweeted 115 times on Thursday night
December 13, 2019
The always prolific tweeter-in-chief appears to have hit a new record.
The president’s @realDonaldTrump account had tweeted and retweeted 115 times by late Thursday night, marking what could be his most active day on the platform yet.
The avalanche came as the House judiciary committee pressed toward a historic vote on Friday to approve articles of impeachment against him.
Trump has noticeably ramped up his tweeting during the impeachment inquiry. He tweeted 77 times on Wednesday and 105 times on Sunday, repeatedly declaring his innocence and retweeting comments and video of supporters defending his conduct.
But Trump also made time on Thursday for a harsh tweet aimed at 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, one day after she was named Time magazine’s person of the year. Trump told the Swedish teenager to “Chill!” adding that she “must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!”
Thunberg has been open about her diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder associated with high intelligence and impaired social skills.
Trump also took time on Thursday for a tweet promoting Mar-a-Lago, the private club he owns in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump’s relationship with the club has raised alarm among ethics experts who note that members and guests can pay for access to the president, who spends frequent winter weekends at the resort.
Thursday’s deluge of tweets drew the attention of a leading 2020 Democrat, the former vice-president Joe Biden, who tweeted that Trump should “Give it a rest, man”.
Trump’s re-election campaign slapped back, quipping: “Sleepy Joe knows a lot about rest.”
A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, added that Trump’s “use of technology to communicate directly with the American people should be praised, not criticized”. He said the media should focus on Trump’s accomplishments “instead of obsessing over how many times the president has tweeted”.

Trump impeachment: Lindsey Graham will ‘not pretend to be a fair juror’
December 14, 2019
by Martin Pengelly in New York
The Guardian
Lindsey Graham will not try to “pretend to be a fair juror” should Donald Trump face an impeachment trial in the US Senate.
Speaking at the Doha Forum in Qatar on Saturday, the South Carolina Republican and close Trump ally said he was “trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here. What I see coming, happening today, is just a partisan nonsense.”
Trump faces two articles of impeachment arising from his attempts to have Ukraine carry out investigations favourable to his re-election campaign: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
A House vote is expected next week. If Trump is impeached, as is likely as Democrats hold the chamber, a trial will be held in the Senate in January. Republicans are in control there, few if any defections are likely and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has said the president will not be convicted and removed.
The Kentuckian caused further anger among Democrats this week, when he said he was “taking my cues” from the White House regarding strategy for the trial.
In response, the Democratic minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said in a statement: “If articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate, every single senator will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice’.
“Making sure the Senate conducts a fair and honest trial that allows all the facts to come out is paramount.”
Graham disagrees.
“This thing will come to the Senate,” he said on Saturday, “and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly.”
Graham is familiar with the impeachment process and how the Senate stages a trial, having been a House manager for the Republicans in the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Asked if it was appropriate for him as a prospective juror to be discussing the case in such terms, he said: “Well, I must think so because I’m doing it.”
He added: “Personally I think President Trump will come out of this stronger and the good news is that everybody in politics in America needs to prove to the American public we’re not all completely crazy. So there may be a spirit of compromise coming post-impeachment, born of political necessity, if anything else.”
Graham said Joe Biden, a target of Trump’s alleged scheming, was a friend and would “do very well” in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But he also implied that Biden’s son’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company was corrupt.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden, as there is no evidence of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, the other hobby horse pushed by Trump and his Republican backers.
Witnesses in impeachment hearings held by the House intelligence committee outlined the scheme which Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani are alleged to have orchestrated.
The House judiciary panel heard from legal scholars on the constitutional grounds for impeachment, before producing the articles to be voted on in a process subject to Republican protest and obstruction.
“I think the best thing for America to do is get this behind us,” Graham said.
“If you don’t like President Trump, you can vote against him in less than a year. It’s not like a politician is unaccountable if you don’t impeach them. So I think impeachment is going to end quickly in the Senate. I would prefer it to end as quickly as possible.”
Graham was also asked about his own past opposition to Trump, when both men were running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Then, Graham famously called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot”.
“I said all of those things,” he said in Doha. “Clearly, I wasn’t a fan of his campaign, right? But here’s the way it has to work. When you lose, accept it. The American people didn’t believe that. They made him their president.”

FBI’s facial recognition program hits ‘full operational capability’
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Next Generation Identification System, a biometric database reliant on tens of millions of facial-recognition records, is now fully operational, the agency announced Monday.
The NGI system, after three years of development, is billed by the FBI as a new breakthrough for criminal identification and data-sharing between law enforcement agencies.
“This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler,” the FBI said in a statement
The NGI database contains over 100 million individual records that link a person’s fingerprints, palm prints, iris scans and facial-recognition data with personal information like their home address, age, legal status and other potentially compromising details.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the NGI is the facial-recognition information, which civil liberties advocates have said for years is among the most serious future threats to Americans’ privacy. The NGI database is expected to contain 52 million facial-recognition images alone by 2015.
The FBI said Monday that two new features of the database are now complete, capping off the NGI’s “operational capability.”
One feature, the Rap Back, will allow officials to “receive ongoing status notifications of any criminal history reported on individuals holding positions of trust, such as school teachers.”
Additionally, the Interstate Photo System (IPS) facial recognition service “will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities.”
But Americans not suspected of any criminal activity could easily be swept up into the NGI, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in any number of ways. An individual who goes through a fingerprint background check for an employment opportunity, for instance, could soon be required to submit a picture of herself as well.
That picture could be stored alongside images of suspected criminals, unlike fingerprints, where a clear differentiation is made between law-abiding citizens and those who have been in trouble with the law before.
According to EFF senior staff attorney Jennifer Lynch, there is cause for concern because “the FBI and Congress have thus far failed to enact meaningful restrictions on what types of data can be submitted to the system, who can access the data and how the data can be used.”
“For example, although the FBI has said in these documents that it will not allow non-mug shot photos such as images from social networking sites to be saved from the system, there are no legal or even written FBI policy restrictions in place to prevent this from occurring,” Lynch said.
In June, EFF and other privacy advocates warned that the FBI’s facial-recognition database is in desperate need of more oversight.
“One of the risks here, without assessing the privacy considerations, is the prospect of mission creep with the use of biometric identifiers,” Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told National Journal. “It’s been almost two years since the FBI said they were going to do an updated privacy assessment, and nothing has occurred.”
A 2010 report of the FBI’s facial-recognition technology found that it could fail one in every five instances it was used, a rate higher than fingerprinting or iris scans.
Yet FBI Director James Comey has told Congress that the database would not amass photos of innocent people, and that it is only intended to “find bad guys by matching pictures to mugshots.”
In a milestone announcement, the FBI said in August that it had tracked down a 14-year fugitive suspected of child abuse using facial-recognition technology.
Meanwhile, US government intelligence researchers are developing the Janus Program which will “radically expand the range of conditions under which automated face recognition can establish identity.”
There are currently no federal restraints on the use of facial-recognition software.

FBI Facial Recognition System Gives Officers an Investigative Lead
The powerful tool replaces legacy technology and lets police officers automatically compare a suspect’s digital facial image against more than 20 million images, but it has accuracy limits and has raised concerns among privacy groups.
by Jessica Hughes
Government Technology and Emergency Management

New FBI facial recognition technology released in September means more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies can search potential criminals by face in addition to fingerprint.
The facial recognition tool, called the Interstate Photo System, lets officers automatically compare a suspect’s digital facial image against the 20 million and growing images available for searches, giving officers an investigative lead.
“What this does for our criminal justice community is it provides them another tool to be able to go out and identify criminals,” said Stephen Morris, assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the FBI.
The facial recognition tool is part of CJIS’ Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, which is a 10-year IT project begun in 2008 to replace the decades-old legacy Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The project has been launched in stages, but the September release marks the biggest rollout and the official end of the legacy system. The facial recognition technology was piloted in six states and developed in collaboration with law enforcement agencies nationwide. NGI currently operates in about 75 percent of the country’s law enforcement agencies.
“This is a long overdue effort to replace legacy technology, old technology, with new, relevant, more efficient, cheaper technology and, more importantly, more accurate technology,” Morris said.
The facial recognition technology represents the first time officers can search CJIS’ criminal mug shot database, which can store up to 92 million photos, against digital photos culled from investigations. Previously, there was no way to automatically search against the images collected along with fingerprints taken during booking or incarceration. Law enforcement officers would have to submit photos to the CJIS Division for facial recognition processing. With the new system, officers can choose between two and 50 candidates for review.
Any image used for search purposes is in law enforcement’s possession pursuant to a lawful investigation, Morris said. Digital photos, for example, can be taken from surveillance cameras or from digital devices that are seized with a search warrant. The ability to use the images captured on these devices is where the value in the tool lies, he said.
“Obviously you can’t pull a fingerprint off of a phone, but if there are images on a phone and you know that it’s that person’s phone, it’s the next best thing,” said Morris.
Facial recognition technology, however, is less reliable than fingerprint identification, with the Interstate Photo System returning the correct candidate a minimum of 85 percent of the time when a matching photos is in the repository. Any facial recognition hits are therefore investigative leads, not positive identifications, Morris said.
“In other words, it’s not an absolute identification,” Morris said. “When that agency gets that result back, they then have to go out and do the follow-up investigation.”
Additionally, controlled environments are best for facial recognition, a relatively young technology, which can be explained as an algorithm that make sense of millions of pixels describing facial features, said Chenjgun Liu, associate professor of computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. DMV photos, for instance, are a good use for the technology.
“There is no such thing as a system or program that can recognize people without any constraint,” Liu said. “That is a fiction.”
Liu, who has received funding from the Department of Defense to support his research into improving the technology, recognizes the benefit of using the technology with digital images to narrow down the number of suspects in an investigation, reducing the search effort dramatically.
“The potential benefit is of course also obvious. We have nowadays images almost everywhere,” he said.
CJIS has put into place specifications to ensure photo quality for people submitting digital images to its database, requiring they be frontal facial images with no shadows, and be taken in controlled environments. The accuracy of the photos both in the database and for those that are searched against are correlated with faster and more accurate search results, Morris said.
And although it’s not an absolute, searching for both photo and fingerprint matches for one person can give officers almost virtual certainty of someone’s identify, he said.
“For the folks out there worried about it falsely identifying people, I would say it actually closes the gap and reduces the chance of an individual being falsely identified,” Morris said.
Indeed, the fact that law enforcement can search against such a large database of digital images, has some groups uncomfortable with its possible surveillance capabilities. The facial recognition technology received attention in the spring from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Morris said NGI has been subject to privacy threat assessments and privacy impact assessments, and that abuse of the technology using photos on social networking sites is “patently false.”
“First and foremost all of these things are done with absolute guarantee that privacy and civil liberties are of first concern,” he said.
Cost of the technology overhaul is another concern. The entire NGI System is a billion-dollar project. But Morris said the high price tag is an investment. “Over a long run, over a 20-year span, the return on that will be significant. You’re talking about savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
That’s because the technology was built on a flexible framework, scalable as new biometric capabilities become economically and technically feasible. One such technology, iris image recognition, was just piloted under NGI.
Although the technology is not ready to be added to NGI’s set of biometrics tools, it soon may be, Morris said, just as facial recognition technology has come around.
V for Vendetta is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd (with additional art by Tony Weare), published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics. The story depicts a dystopian and post-apocalyptic near-future history version of the United Kingdom in the 1990s, preceded by a nuclear war in the 1980s, which has left much of the world destroyed. The fascist Norsefire party has exterminated its opponents in concentration camps and rules the country as a police state. The comics follow its titular character and protagonist, V, an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, as he begins an elaborate and theatrical revolutionist campaign to murder his former captors, bring down the government and convince the people to rule themselves, while inspiring a young woman, Evey Hammond, to be his protégé
Since the release in 2006 of the film V for Vendetta, the use of stylised “Guy Fawkes” masks, with moustache and pointed beard, has become widespread internationally among groups protesting against politicians, banks and financial institutions. The masks both conceal the identity and protect the face of individuals and demonstrate their commitment to a shared cause.
The government of Saudi Arabia banned the importation of the masks in May 2013, and said that it would confiscate any found on sale. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs stated that the mask is “a symbol of rebels and revenge”, and warned imams and parents that “they could be used to incite the youth to destabilize security and spread chaos…”[37] On 22 September 2013, Saudi religious police prohibited the wearing of the Guy Fawkes mask, the day before Saudi Arabia’s 83rd National Day
The wearing of masks during a riot or unlawful assembly has been banned in Canada, following the enactment of Bill C-309, and now carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
In current times masked political protestors, such as those in the Occupy Movement, and in particular, Anonymous, a collective group of online hackers with strong political beliefs, who consistently sport Guy Fawkes masks, have been targeted with anti-masking laws
The wearing of masks during a riot or unlawful assembly has been banned in Canada, following the enactment of Bill C-309, and now carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
In current times masked political protestors, such as those in the Occupy Movement, and in particular, Anonymous, a collective group of online hackers with strong political beliefs, who consistently sport Guy Fawkes masks, have been targeted with anti-masking laws
In Austria since 2002 masking ban on demonstrations under § 9 of the Assembly Law (Versammlungsgesetz). Violation of the ban need not be prosecuted if the mask does not threaten public order and security. Violation of the ban entails, according to § 19a of the Law, imprisonment up to six months, repeated offenses one year or a fine.
Wearing masks at a protest is illegal in Denmark.
French ban on face covering is an act of parliament passed by the Senate of France on 14 September 2010, resulting in the ban on the wearing of face-covering headgear, including masks, helmets, balaclava, niqābs and other veils covering the face in public places, except under specified circumstances.
Since 1980s, according to § 17a Abs. 2 Versammlungsgesetz you may not disguise your identity in public meetings such as demonstrations so the police are able to identify you. This violation can be fined with imprisonment up to one year.
According to ‘Citizens’ Security Law’ passed by government, protesters who cover their faces at demonstrations could be fined up to 30,000 euros.
According to the Law on the Prohibition of masking in some cases, the prohibition for participants in the demonstration to fully or partially cover the face in a way that complicates identification. This prohibition applies only if there are disturbances of public order at demonstrations, or if there is an immediate danger of such disturbances. The ban does not apply to the covering of the face for religious reasons. It also does not apply to the extent participants (under 2 Ch. 7 a § Order Act ) authorized to fully or partially cover the face.
In the cantons of Basel-Stadt (1990), Zurich (1995), Bern (1999), Lucerne (2004), Thurgau (2004), Solothurn (2006) and St. Gallen (2009), there are laws banning use of masks.
Several days after Berkut riot police clashed with Euromaidan protesters Verkhovna Rada has enacted law 721-VII banning wearing masks, helmets or camouflage clothing by people taking part in a gathering, assembly, demonstration, protest, rally or other mass event. Fines for violating are monetary up to about $400 or administrative arrest up to 15 days.[15] The law was repealed in January 2014.[16][17][18]
United Kingdom
During the 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests one of the temporary policies discussed in the COBRA meeting was to ban the covering of the face during the riots. Generally only enforced in areas in a riot stage, none were arrested solely for wearing masks, only ordered to take them off. However, many arrested who committed other crimes, such as looting and attacking police officers, were charged with failing to adhere to the mask ban as well as all the other infringements when placed in court.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 27

The late breakfast was good and Eric took a fancy to Denver omelets, eating three of them very quickly.
Afterwards, they wandered into the casino, which seemed to be filled with old women, tourists and lean, weather-beaten men with straw cowboy hats and scuffed boots.
There was a clatter of slot machines, an occasional bell rang as a jackpot was paid and murmured conversation punctuated with occasional yelps of joy when someone won money.
Lars changed a hundred dollar bill into a large cup full of quarters and headed for the slots while Chuck and Gwen wandered around the rooms.
Chuck decided to play blackjack and Gwen vanished behind a bank of slots.
He lost six games but won three and when he finished, he was exactly six dollars ahead.
The watch showed that his allotted time was expiring so he set out to round up the passengers and leave.
Eric was sitting on a stool, a number of cups filled with quarters in front of him.
He had been very successful, winning three large jackpots. This infuriated an elderly woman who had been playing four machines at the same time without success.
She had been there since six in the morning and when she left to use the rest rooms, Eric slid down onto her stool and in less than ten minutes, won two jackpots and fifteen minutes later, a third. The returning woman insisted that Eric was taking over her very own machines and said so in a loud, squally voice. She was eventually persuaded to go elsewhere by a security guard and now Eric was wondering if this bonanza could go on all day.
Chuck had to help Eric carry his heavy winnings to the cashier’s booth for transmutation into paper money and then they began to search for Gwen. They couldn’t find her in the slot machine sections, at the roulette wheels, the crap tables, in the lobby or back in the buffet. He even went out to the parking lot and looked into the van but since she did not have the keys, it was a pointless move on his part.
There seemed to be a crowd around a poker table but Chuck could not get near enough to it to see if Gwen was there but he doubted that she would be playing poker. It was not, he reasoned, a woman’s game. Not being able to find her initially annoyed him and then it occurred to him that she simply might have walked out and left. With this thought in mind and without bothering to analyze its message, he began to increase his searchings. There were now occasional bursts of applause from the crowd around the poker table and since that was the last area he had not searched, he walked over and stood behind a fat trucker.
“Jesus, I ain’t seen nothing like that, ever,” said the trucker to his friend who was chewing on an unlit cigar and whose beefy arms were covered with tattoos.
“Nah,” said his friend, “I seen that in Arizona once. Goddam freak run of luck, that’s all.”
There was a splattering of applause and Chuck walked away, now resigned to the unpleasant fact that Gwen had bailed out on him. He was standing by a bank of slots trying to prevent Lars from getting more quarters when he heard a voice that was pleasantly familiar.
“Hey, Chuck, how did you do?”
It was Gwen and there was a man with her.
“Jesus, where have you been? We’ve been looking all over for you…”
“I was playing poker. With Aunt Connie’s money.”
The man, who was obviously a casino employee, was grinning.
“And did she win!” he said shaking his head.
“Is this your new friend?”
“Oh. No, he’s going to get me my winnings in cash.”
The man had a basket full of high denomination chips in one hand.
After the cashier handed Gwen several thick stacks of hundred dollar bills, she turned to him and said,
“Listen, I owe you for the clothes. Let me pay you..”
He took her by the arm.
“No, you owe me nothing. My pleasure.”
A woman with a tray full of drinks came up, artificial smile fixed to her face.
“Compliments of the house, ma’am. Would you like a drink too, sir?”
It was the habit of the management of all gambling establishments to ply winners with liquor in the hopes they might decide to reinvest their earnings. If they had enough free liquor to drink, they might leave a good deal poorer than when they came in.
“Thank you but we’re leaving now. My compliments to the house.”
When they got to the van and then drove out back onto the highway, Chuck was still in a bad mood.
“What did you disappear for like that? We were all looking for you.”
“I didn’t disappear Chuck. I was playing poker right in the building.”
“I couldn’t get near the table.”
“Well, that’s my fault. I guess I was winning a lot and people get excited.”
“Not to be rude but how much did you win?”
“Aren’t you nosy. Here, count it if you want.”
She stuck a bulging purse in front of him.
“I’m trying to drive. Can’t you tell me?”
“Oh, I guess twenty five.”
Chuck nearly ran into the back of a tour bus.
“You said you didn’t believe in him.”
“Where did you learn to play poker?”
“From my dad. I enjoy it.”
“I’m sure you do but I’ll bet the house doesn’t right now”
“They asked me if I would like to be a dealer for the house but I said no. Who wants to live out here anyway? It reminds me of Apple Valley and I never liked that place very much. Out in the desert just like this dumpy country and really nothing to do.”
He was very relieved to see her again, although he had trouble addressing this, but also annoyed because she now had money which, to Chuck, meant control. He liked control and he liked to keep it, no matter how benevolent he might use it. Still, the woman was obviously more than she seemed but the changing balance in the relationship bothered him.


This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

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